If there’s one common sentiment echoed by runners flying home to Atlanta from Monday’s tragedy-stricken Boston Marathon, it is that they would all have no hesitation about returning to Boston.
Asked if he would go back, Mike Wien said, “absolutely, you bet. Because the last thing I want to do is let the terrorist win.”
“I’ll definitely go back,” said Danette Betts, who ran her second Boston Marathon on Monday, finishing well before the two explosions.
“I wasn’t planning to go back next year, but I will,” Betts said. “I want to support them.”
Betts, who lives in Alpharetta, said she was “well away” from the finish line and didn’t feel the explosions.
“I was very fortunate,” she said. “I feel blessed.”
Mary Thurman of Midtown had also finished the race, but was still close to the finish line when the bombs went off.
“You crossed the finish line, then you went through an area where you got hydration and food, and then you went into another area, and that’s the point where it happened,” Thurman said.
“The first bomb sounded, obviously, like a bomb,” she told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I thought maybe it was something related to the marathon that was planned, but then immediately, you heard another one and saw the smoke, and we all looked at each other and knew it was time to get out of there.”
Christy Striplin, an Atlanta tennis coach who was running her first Boston Marathon, called Monday’s bombing “very senseless and evil.”
She said she had finished the race about an hour earlier, and was driving with her fiancé just outside the city when the explosions happened.
“I just feel really lucky and fortunate and I feel really bad and so sad for the people who got caught in it,” Striplin said.
Wien said he was also “one of the fortunate ones” who had already finished the race and left the area when the blasts occurred.
“We were at our hotel, which was two blocks away,” Wien said.
“I was in the shower and didn’t hear anything,” he said, adding that he got a phone call from his wife, telling him to turn on the television, “then my cell phone exploded with e-mails and voice mails from all my friends who knew that I was up there.”
The apparent act of terrorism was particularly worrisome for Wien, who is on the board of directors of the Atlanta Track Club, which runs the annual Peachtree Road Race.
“I’ve already talked to our executive director and we are very sensitive about things we might have to change about that race to make sure we’re sensitive to safety,” he said. “We can’t live in a totally secure environment, but we will be working with local officials on making it as safe as possible.”
Wien said he made it a point to wear his Boston Marathon medal on his flight home to Atlanta Tuesday.
“I want to honor those that were not able to finish,” he said. “I also want to remember those who are injured and the three people that we know about that died.”
Wien said he was impressed with the reaction of the Boston community immediately following Monday’s explosions that marred what he called a “fabulous celebration.”
“It was the 117th anniversary of the running of the Boston Marathon,” he said.
“You have fans out there cheering the runners whose grandparents were in the same spot cheering the runners,” Wien said. “It is so unfortunate that the city of Boston had to face this tragedy yesterday. Boston should be very proud of how they reacted.”
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